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CAN: Lakeshore municipality faces regulatory hurdles for greenhouse policies

In a recent development, the Municipality of Lakeshore's ambitious plan for Commercial Greenhouse Policies, outlined in Official Plan Amendment No. 18, faces regulatory challenges. The County of Essex has raised concerns over the conformity of the amendment, specifically the associated Zoning By-law Amendment (ZBA-01-2023), with the Agricultural policies in the Provincial Policy Statement 2020.

County Planning Manager Rebecca Belanger expressed her concerns in a letter to Ms. Tammie Ryall, Corporate Leader of Growth and Sustainability at the Municipality of Lakeshore. The letter highlighted that the proposed amendments could severely limit the establishment of commercial greenhouses in areas designated and zoned Agricultural within the municipality. The primary issue emphasized was related to setbacks in the Zoning By-law Amendment.

Ms. Belanger recommended that the municipality engage in discussions with the County of Essex and Provincial Ministries, including the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), to address these policy and regulatory issues. The recommendation, as presented in a report, urges the municipality to direct its administration to meet with relevant authorities and report back to the Council by the December 12, 2023 meeting.

Background of the commercial greenhouse policies
The Municipality of Lakeshore embarked on a study to assess the impact of Large-Scale Greenhouse development, eventually resulting in Official Plan Amendment No. 18 and an implementation of Zoning By-law Amendment 2-2023. The amendments, following public consultations and adjustments, were approved by the Council on March 7, 2023. However, subsequent reviews by the County of Essex raised concerns about the amendments' compliance with provincial agricultural policies.

A separate ongoing study, initiated after a report by Storey Samways Greenhouse in November 2022, is exploring the possibility of limiting Commercial Greenhouse Farms to designated areas where impacts can be effectively managed. Despite this, the current amendments are under scrutiny for their adherence to Provincial Policy Statement 2020.

Administrative recommendation and financial impacts
In response to the concerns raised by the County of Essex, the municipality's administration is recommended to engage in discussions with the County and Provincial Ministries to find solutions. The financial impact of the study, amounting to $53,000, was within the approved budget.

The Municipality of Lakeshore now faces a crucial decision regarding the future of its Commercial Greenhouse Policies. The outcome of the discussions and any proposed modifications will be presented to the Council as per the December 12, 2023 meeting, providing insight into the direction the municipality will take to resolve the regulatory hurdles.

Click here for the meeting minutes

Click here for the letter sent out in November